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Lameness Issue - Need COTH Input (LONG)

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  • Lameness Issue - Need COTH Input (LONG)

    Hey Everyone, I am posting this for a friend of mine who has been having issues with her horse for about the past year and a half. I went out to video her today, and of course she looked much better (as we all know horses do that!) I asked her to do a write up for me with everything that has been done and approx dates so that there would be an exact time frame to go with. She bred this mare and owned her since she was an embryo, so we are knowlegable about everything that has happened to her.

    Today she looked A LOT better than she was doing over the past two weeks, at marker (around) 2:20 you can see her kind of collapse in the rear, and that is what she's been doing. She acts normally and trots around on her own in the pasture. One thing I noticed that the muscles above her hocks were very over muscled looking, I videoed up close to them at the end.

    Here is what my friend wrote:

    Up to February of '08 she seemed to be fine. Showed her in December of '07 as a 2 year old at TASHA in walk trot class and she did very well. Was long lining 2 to 3 days a week, riding every other week once a week walk trot only. Following closely in the rear and some over-reaching problems, pulled right front shoe off with back foot from time to time, but other than that working well.

    February of '08 stride started shortenening and the following closely in the back started to be too close, banging ankles together at the trot only. Made sure I always worked her with splint boots in the rear to prevent any damage if she did bang against herself. Still only riding once a week to once every other week, mostly longlining, started training her to drive.

    May of '08 sent into training to finish learning to drive. Trainer suggested her problem in the rear just looked like a lack of muscle tone and that lots of driving would fix the problem. Saw her every weekend while in training, looked fabulous most of the time, but still banging rear legs together at the trot only. Has some days that her rear looks weak, but trainer still says its a muscle issue, nothing to worry about.

    July of '08 Faith comes home from trainer. Notice that her rear seems very weak, at times will almost collapse at the walk leading her in from the pasture. Continue her training at home, still has good weeks and bad weeks.

    August of '08 Faith's rear end gives out and she falls down while I'm riding her. Decide this cannot continue and take her to first vet for full examination. Vet runs X-rays, nothing out of the ordinary. Runs Neurological exams, passes most with flying colors, but slightly fails one test. Vet diagnoses EPM and puts her on sulfadiazine and pyrimethamine for 90 days. Also supplemented her with a strong vitamin E and C feed through supplement. She did not improve at all, so asked another vet to give a 2nd opinion.

    October of '08 She spent a full day with two vets examining her. Full Neurological testing and more x-rays. Nothing out of the ordinary on X-rays. Still passes all neurological tests but actions look like something slightly neurological wrong with her. As a final test vet temporarily blocks her stifle joints. Faith trots around like she's going to the world championships, showing no signs of any problem whatsoever. Vet says she needs rest, no work and a good joint supplement. Start her on Joint supplement containing 10,000 mg of Glucosamine Sulfate, 2,500 mg of Chondroitin Sulfate, 125 mg of Hyaluronic Acid, 10,000 mg of PurforMSM™, 2,500 mg of Yucca and 1,600 mg of Ester-C®. Stall rest during the day, turn out to small paddock in the evenings. No structured exercise whatsoever.

    January of '09 - shows some signs of improving, not collapsing in the rear anymore but still not as healed as I had hoped. Took her back to vet to spend the day. More X-rays and ultrasound this time. Still nothing out of the ordinary on X-rays, nothing out of the ordinary on ultrasound as far as they can see, but have a hard time because their ultrasound machine isn't powerful enough to get all of the way through her leg to really see the stifle. Believes that her problem is probably cruciate Ligament damage and says it could take up to a year to heal. Vet suggests more rest and joint injections instead of feed through. Start her on Adequan injections once a week for 4 weeks. Still not much improvement, so vet suggests she needs to be put out to pasture where she can move freely as she wants and not put any stress on her joints turning in a 12x12 stall.

    March of '09 Faith put out to pasture. Has a full 2 acres with two very old broodmares, so she isn't getting pushed or stressed out. Can move as she wants. Continue Glucosamine injections every other week.

    May of '09 Faith really starting to show improvement. Not collapsing in the rear at all, trotting around the pasture almost normally. Still banging back ankles together at the trot, but definitely showing serious improvement. Very carefully long-lined her to check how much improvement. Can walk and trot if kept slow and collected very nicely first direction of the ring. Can also canter first direction. 2nd direction tends to be a little more out of sync, but if kept at a very slow trot can move evenly. If asked to canter 2nd direction, picks up correct lead in the front, but wrong lead in the rear. Put her back out to pasture to hopefully continue her improvement.

    August of '09 Seems to be regressing. Starting to collapse in the rear again when walking or trotting, banging ankles in the rear very badly. Will actually collapse in the rear and fall if she tries to turn too quickly or start out too quickly.

    Me again - hopefully some of you take time to look this over and can give opinions and help, she really wants to be able to ride her again and is willing to spend what is needed to fix her, but the vets aren't really sure WHAT is going on. Oh and also it seemed like she was hitting the ground really hard with her hooves.

    Thanks in advance for any help!
    Last edited by desertmyst; Aug. 16, 2009, 03:04 AM. Reason: removing video, thanks
    Member of the "My Saddlebred can do anything your horse can do" clique

  • #2
    The first thing which sprang into my mind when I read your post was 'Wobbler Syndrome'.

    I have information here which I can post if required.

    I'm new here, so I don't want to offend anyone through over-enthusiasm.


    • #3
      Looks to me like EPM (or, possibly Wobbler's...but one would think they would get better, then regress).

      How extensive were the neuro exams? Trotting the horse down hill? Crossing the front legs? Turning in tight circles, backing up? The "tail pull" while they are walking can sometimes be misleading if one has a very compliant horse.

      Just curious, why didn't the vet put the horse on Marquis if he/she diagnosed with EPM?
      www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
      "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
      Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


      • #4
        Wow. First of all it sounds like you are doing all the right stuff to try and figure this out.
        I had some similar issues with my TB and finally did a bone scan- he had a fracture of the ilium (connection between spine and pelvis). It needed rest- 6 months in a rolling pasture 24/7 and he is 100%. However, it took AGES to really figure out something was wrong (because it was so hard to pin down consistently) , and then finally diagnosing it... not cheap.
        Do not take anything to heart. Do not hanker after signs of progress. Founder of the Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.


        • #5
          Hi Everyone! Desertmyst put this all up for me.. Faith is my baby girl Thank you to anyone and everyone that has any suggestions to help her out. She will be going back to the vet in the next couple of weeks, (vet number 3) and I just want to be able to give him all of the information I can.

          As far as wobbler and the EPM go, that was initially her diagnosis. I chose not to put her on Marquis because after doing a ton of research I found the meds we put her on were much safer and almost as effective.

          The 2nd vet I took her to (see really long start to thread) blocked her stifles and she was perfect again. He said that if her problems in the rear were neurological, there would be no change with the blocking, which knocked out both wobbler and EPM.


          • #6
            You'd probably save a lot of money taking her to an equiine hospital as they see the hardest cases constantly and have a wider base of knowledge/experience that a single pratitioner or practice. That's been my experience with the difficult to diagnose cases.

            Also, Marquis is much more effective than the meds you used, though it does not always have a 100% success rate. That is precisely why it was developed. What you used seldom "cures", but can keep the problem from getting worse. But then again, it depends who quickly the horse was diagnosed and treated.
            www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
            "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
            Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


            • #7
              Any chance you could have a chiropractor look at her??


              • #8
                If there is a disease process going, money would be better spent to eliminate that possiblity. I am totally pro-chiro, but the horse was diagnosed with EPM but never really got gung-ho treatment and from the looks of that video has relapsed. The horse looks completely screwed up from front end to back, IME. Neuro would be my continued concern. The best chiro cannot "cure" a neuro condition.

                Bonafide diagnosis can determine the treatment plan -- chiro perhaps one of them.
                www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                • #9
                  I watched the video and I must agree with SID, the horse didn't look right from the moment she started walking. She was lame behind and up front IMO and even head bobbing at times at the walk. I'm not trying to sound harsh but when someone on the video said "she looks really good to me" my thought was WTF, are we watching the same horse??

                  If this were my horse I would be loading up and going to the nearest large equine hospital for a complete head to toe lameness and neuro work-up. I would be going with my checkbook open and prepared to spend some $$$$. This horse is young and exhibiting serious issues, they need to be identififed and tackled now, they've been going on for a long time already. If the owner does not have the finances to do a full blown work-up then my plea would be stop trying to ride this horse or work her in any way, including longing/long lining without a thorough work-up and diagnosis. From watching that video all involved could get hurt if she loses her balance and goes down. The horse looks really sweet and like she wants to be good and try hard for you, but her body just isn't up to par.
                  Blogging about daily life on the retirement farm: http://paradigmfarms.blogspot.com/
                  Paradigm Farms on Facebook


                  • #10
                    OTB -exactly..You saw what I saw. It's so easy to see, but I didn't want to insult the owner. You didn't...you said it very well. What a CUTE and compliant horse. Hope she gets a bonfide diagnosis the help and to get her well...

                    She looks like she's trying so hard but she looks like a neurlogical mess from front to back.
                    www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                    "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                    Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                    • #11
                      I agree, to me the horse looks very lame up front as well. Going left it is much worse. The lameness in the front could be related to the nero problem or from falling from the nero problem. Now I do not know much about standardbreds to know if they are a breed with jerky movement or not, but that is what stands out the most with the horse.

                      I too would try to either go to a hospital or a vet that specializes in lameness and really get a full work up.


                      • #12
                        I feel so bad for this horse, it is such a patient kind horse, I'll leave it at that.

                        It is so lame, and the ground doesn't do it any favors at all. It is very lame behind and seems worse on the left.

                        But it looks like several things are going on. It looks extremely sore footed all around, and very sore and weak in the stifles and hocks as well.

                        If the horse were mine, I would get her out of the field turnout situation, it is clearly not therapeutic in her case - she is so sore in her feet.

                        I would put her in a stall, and shoe her to protect her feet from further bruising. I would hand walk her on soft ground, such as in an arena with very, very good footing. No more hard, uneven footing. I would put her on an anti inflammatory medication, after taking her to a different vet. I would have a scint done or detail xrays, something to see if arthritis was setting in. And go into the neurological test she failed, have that redone to see where she is at now and if it is different from the first time it was done.

                        I would make a plan for her with the vet, including return visits to evaluate response and progress, and I would decide with the vet if the horse could be returned to use, or pasture soundness and if euthenasia was the more humane choice if not.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by sid View Post
                          OTB -exactly..You saw what I saw.

                          She looks like she's trying so hard but she looks like a neurlogical mess from front to back.
                          That's what I see and I have seen several with advanced symptoms of EPM and quite a few milder cases.
                          This one needs to go to a good clinic for a full work up, NOW if you don't think it's EPM and want an answer.

                          You know, I understand you want to hope for the best and want to not go to any harsh drugs but...sometimes those drugs can save a life and are worth the risk of side effects.

                          Whatever you have done is not working, she does not look "fine" IMO, she looks like she has EPM. All whatever you have done is doing is draining your wallet trying to treat what might be wrong while avoiding a drug that is known to effectively treat what she was diagnosed with, EPM. And that is a condition that can kill them if left untreated.

                          BTW, EPM is notorious for coming and going as well, a block does NOT rule it out and is not normally used as a diagnostic test for it. Sometimes they have a sore foot/hock/stifle AND EPM, the block kills the pain. They still have EPM.

                          Sorry to be blunt but, understand, I have watched two die from it and you do not want to go there if you can get on board with a proper diagnosis and treatment regime ASAP. Not a good way for them to go.
                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                          • #14
                            Poor Faith! I couldn't watch to the end, I was getting queasy when you asked her to canter. What a sweet good looking horse and she looks in good body condition despite her issues.
                            I have had one very similar to your girl and he held his neck the same way although the lameness was not as pronounced. He was diagnosed at age 6 with Wobbler syndrome. The stifle injury could have been a result of her fall and that was not the root of her problem.
                            She desperately needs a hospital to diagnose her. Put her under anethesia and do a spinal tap, that is the only true diagnoses for EPM. But FIRST have her neck x-rayed for wobbler syndrome. If she's a wobbler there is no cure, well not one that most doctors will do. If she shows EPM, treat her for 60 days w Marquis. You need to eliminate the EPM before you go further with diagnostics which you may not have to.

                            good luck.....keep us posted
                            Last edited by pixie; Aug. 16, 2009, 12:26 PM.


                            • #15
                              I couldn't watch all of it either. That horse is very lame behind..even noticeable at the walk. I also suggest strongly that you try Marquis and go the EPM route. The other possibilities are some sort of spinal or nerve damage. If you don't want to do that first, I'd have this mare at a big clinic or Vet Teaching hospital asap for xrays of her spine, stifles, etc... or use the bone scan to see what is "hot" and painful or to help diagnose the EPM. My first guess in looking at her is that it's neurological also and your most likely culprit is EPM. The longer you wait to treat her the more damage is done and it's largely irreversible. Marquis is really quite safe. I had a horse get it for two separate attacks and he did fine on it.


                              • #16
                                That video was WAY too long. I have been on the racetrack for twenty years and never saw a horse that lame before except the one's with catastrophic breakdowns. I couldn't believe you kept asking her for more and more and she kept giving it to you. Please get her some real help soon or put her down. That was gross.
                                McDowell Racing Stables

                                Home Away From Home


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by sid View Post
                                  You'd probably save a lot of money taking her to an equiine hospital as they see the hardest cases constantly and have a wider base of knowledge/experience that a single pratitioner or practice. That's been my experience with the difficult to diagnose cases.
                                  Faith was taken to two VERY qualified equine hospitals. She has also been seen at home on a regular basis by one of the vets who has continued to tell me she needs rest. It was also a vet that was involved in the first clinical trials of Marquis in Texas that told me not to put her on it because it was dangerous.

                                  There have been several suggestions in these posts that Faith is not getting the care she deserves. Anything I have done or not done for her was "equine" vet recommended and as far as her getting help soon, I am working on that. I have to find a new equine vet that has big enough equipment to do the bone scans and the full blown ultrasound. There are very few vets in the Houston area with this type of equipment, and because of past experiences at A&M, I am not willing to take her there.

                                  My equine chiropractor has just given me the recommendation to one that I am trying to get more information on now. I am no longer willing to throw money at the situation without a remedy, and I am trying to make the best decision to help Faith.


                                  • #18
                                    Beautiful mare who looks like she's in a world of trouble. I would get a second opinion about the Marquis, as I have known several people who have used it without problems; in addition, I would get her pelvis ultrasounded for injury.


                                    • #19
                                      The horse looks lame on all four to me. I would wonder about her neck, have her hocks been xrayed, and all four feet. Did they try to nerve block her? I would put her on a full course of Marquis, at this stage if it is likely more dangerous for your horse to be so lame than the risk of the drugs. I would run a full body bone scan ASAP. It was rather disturbing to put it nicely to see a horse that lame on the lounge. It takes a lameness specialist sergeon to correctly diagnose such a lameness perhaps take her to a reputable unniversity.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Thanks for everyone's input, as for during the video....she does look "great" compared to what she looked like last week, and it was a vast improvement. My friend has definately been consulting veternarians with her horse and has followed all their suggestions to date. Please do not think this has not been without their supervision. She just wanted to see if anyone else had a horse exhibiting these symptoms or maybe some other paths to try that the vets had not thought of. I wish we had video of her to compare to so that the improvement in her movement could be noted.
                                        Member of the "My Saddlebred can do anything your horse can do" clique